Yesterday, we reported that The Wrap founder Sharon Waxman had accused The New York Times of backing down from a story she had written in 2004 that would have exposed Weinstein’s alleged history of sexual abuse because of “intense pressure” from high-profile figures in the movie industry—specifically actors Matt Damon and Russell Crowe. Waxman said she had interviewed a woman who had settled with Weinstein after an “unwanted sexual encounter,” and the piece largely revolved around an executive at the Italian branch of Miramax who had supposedly been paid just to facilitate Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct. After Waxman was personally contacted by Damon and Crowe (and after Weinstein himself apparently visited the New York Times offices), the story was scrubbed of any details pertaining to the allegations against Weinstein.
Now, Damon has offered his side of the story to Deadline, and he denies purposefully trying to bury any allegations against Weinstein. Damon doesn’t deny calling Waxman, but he says Weinstein told him that she was writing a negative story about the executive, who he had worked with on The Talented Mr. Ripley, and he just wanted to explain that this experience with the guy—Fabrizio Lombardo—was “all above board.” Damon claims he didn’t know about any allegations against Weinstein or Lombardo, he was just trying to defend a guy he had worked with against what he was told was “a hit job,” and the conversation only lasted for 30 seconds anyway.
Either way, Damon has no interest in defending Weinstein now. In a seemingly unnecessary justification, Damon explains that he knows sexual assault is wrong because he’s the father of four daughters, and he adds that he wouldn’t “abide this kind of behavior” even before he became famous. Damon also says that he doesn’t buy the stories that everybody knew about Weinstein’s alleged behavior and purposefully kept it quiet, but he says he’s sorry if he was ever at an event or a meeting where this type of thing was happening without him noticing it. To that end, he notes that it’s important for men to “be vigilant” for stuff like this, adding, “I will peel my eyes back now, farther than I ever have, to look for this type of behavior.”